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38 Shadow In The Haunted House

 "What did you say?!"

The old president stood up abruptly.

"That little devil brought Lize to Cyril's Haunted House??"

"I, too, just received the news, old buddy."

Sereck made a withered smile and said, "At first, I wanted to look for them and ask about their plans. But they're long gone by then. Not long after then I learned that they went to the City Hall to buy Cyril's property."

"Needless to say, after seeing his courageous move, I was very optimistic about his future."

"Nonsense! Simply nonsense!"

The old president slammed the table.

"That place isn't some casual area that they can visit. Immediately pull them back!"

Sereck shook his head. "It's too late. They're already inside."

But soon, a smile emerged from his face.

"But thinking about it, old friend, why are you so anxious? Didn't you hate people who broke mercenary rules? Isn't it for the better now if both of them disappeared. Their mercenary group would be immediately disbanded and you'll gain one more slot. Why bother with them now?"

"That is that, and this is this!"

The old president frowned. Apparently, he was very dissatisfied.

"That kid had just been appointed as a guild leader, but the first action he took didn't have the responsibility of his members in mind. Sereck, hurry to the haunted house. Perhaps it isn't too late to salvage the situation."

"Do not be so nervous, old friend, maybe things are not as bad as you think," Sereck said calmly.

The old president revealed a puzzled expression.

"What do you mean?"

After so many years with Sereck, the old president understood that he wasn't a ruthless character. Since he said those words, he must have realized something.

"...Nothing."

After neglecting the president's curiosity on purpose, Sereck shrugged and spread out his hands, revealing an elegant smile.

"You had never fought him before, so you might not understand him. But I'm different... Perhaps... this young man may even create a miracle. Since he dared to buy the mansion, he definitely had a plan to resolve that haunted house issue. As for us, we just have to watch quietly on the sidelines."

"Also, what did you say to Lize...? That this is a gamble? Yes. This is a gamble, so we also have to gamble on him. If Rhode could solve this mystery curse, then it is a good thing for us. I believe that he has the ability to do so."

"Hmph. It's just the pride of young people." The old president snorted in disdain.

"Just because he revealed his extraordinary power and now he thinks he is invincible. There are many of such fools, and he isn't any different."

But Sereck merely grinned and countered, "But there are also many geniuses."

"Whether this kid is a fool or a genius, we currently don't know, but I think that it will all be revealed soon."

The old president rolled his eyes. "I just think that it is too... exaggerated."

"Frankly... if it weren't for the fact that you'd never left Deep Stone City for decades, I would really doubt that you didn't have any relation to this kid since you care for him so much."

"...And I'd love to have anything to do with him." Sereck sighed.

"I'm getting old... Although I did not feel like this yesterday, but after those events... sigh..."

Sereck shifted his gaze upwards and sighed once more.

"Thinking back, what did I do when I was at his age? Now, look at this group of children... Don't you feel that we can't keep up with the time anymore?"

"But history will still have our place."

The old president played with his pen in his hand as he spoke.

"Young people have their own glory, and we also have our own pride. And now is not the time for you to feel old... Alright, since you believe in him so much, then I won't interfere anymore. But, if there's still no movement in three days, then you must be ready to take people to collect their corpses."

-

In the gloomy corridor, the rotting wooden planks creaked under heavy pressure.

Although right now, the current state of the house was in total chaos, but once upon a time, it was an elegant and gorgeous estate with dark red velvet carpets, intricate sculptures, and brilliant crystalline chandeliers.

However, as the saying goes: time washes away everything. In this case, time slowly destroyed the splendor of the house.

The cold wind sifted through the fractures in the glass windows and ruffled the curtains. A huge chandelier sprawled on the floor, with its crystals strewn all over the room. And on the walls, the once beautiful paintings were covered in blemishes and cobwebs.

While the scene looked aesthetically unpleasing, it certainly checked all the boxes of a haunted house theme.

-

Crash.

Rhode smacked his hands together to rid the residue dust on his sleeve after he threw a rotted wooden table at his feet, to the side.

Like a frightened rabbit, Lize jumped once she heard the noise and turned around to stare at Rhode with a pale face.

"W-What are you doing, Mr. Rhode?"

"Cleaning up."

He made a hand gesture and signaled the Spirit Bird to conjure a strong wind to sweep the dust that had been accumulating throughout the years.

Rhode then faced towards Lize with his usual indifferent expression and said, "After all, no one had lived in this ghostly place for a few years. It's time to throw away these things... As a mercenary group stronghold, we don't require a decor like those noble houses; it's so much trouble, just a simple decor would do. Ah, but this carpet quality is not bad, we can keep it, what do you think?"

"Si, sir!"

Lize almost cried when she saw Rhode acting like he just bought a new house and came to decorate the layout.

The pressure on Lize wasn't little. After all, she heard nasty rumors about this haunted house. This house had claimed the lives of many young women and soldiers, and as a result, her inner danger perception was constantly on high alert. Even a slight rustle of the curtain could startle her. This couldn't be blamed on her though. Despite facing death multiple times in the face, she hadn't fought against an enemy that couldn't be seen.

Rhode obviously noticed her alarmed expression, but he did not say anything. He recalled that the first time he came here, he also acted like her, carefully examining every corner of the house since he was afraid that a monster would suddenly appear out of nowhere. But at that time, even Rhode did not expect that the danger would come at the most unexpected moment. But now, he was familiar with the quest process and was quite disappointed that he'd once felt terribly afraid of it. After all, it was his first time being that dreadfully frightened.

Even though he said he was 'cleaning', but it was nothing more than a facade. Although he had already received the deed of the land from the city hall, his mercenary group system didn't recognize the stronghold. This meant that they had not completed the requirements, which was to clear this haunted house. That was why he brought Lize here to help him as she was the best candidate with her holy skills. And since his only subordinate was Lize, he had to somehow find a way to train her to keep up with his speed. However, Lize wasn't a player, and thus, he couldn't blatantly say things like: 'C'mere, let's complete this quest together and level up.' One must realize that NPCs in the game leveled up differently from the player. As such, Rhode had no choice but to trick this poor girl to come here with him.

The sun finally went down.

Darkness crept in and shrouded the skies. Now, the already-dark house was even darker. Only the fireplace in the center of the hall emitted a source of light.

"Mr. Rhode, I think we should go back. We can still clean up tomorrow."

Lize felt increasingly uncomfortable the darker the house became. It wasn't a physical feeling, but rather it was an instinctive sense of danger.

"No need. Let us just take a break here, since this is our stronghold."

He was very clear about her uncomfortable feeling right now. When he entered this area he received a system prompt -- Entered the evil domain.

To the beings belonging to the light, evil and darkness was their biggest foe. The eternal opposition between good and evil clearly drawn the line between the two sides. This means that if one entered the domain of the opposition, an absolute pressure would bear down upon them. And right now, since Lize was in the evil domain, she would feel oppressed by the surroundings and would feel uneasy. After all, she was a half angel, half human, so at least she was still able to maintain this state.

It's almost time.

Once he confirmed the quest trigger from his memories, he reached out his hand and summoned a bright red card quietly.

Clang...!

And finally, at this time, a loud cry rang out.